Police in Vermont announced this morning that a man they believe murdered his his wife and daughter in Waterbury, Vermont in 1978, killed himself in Arizona in 1997 -- nearly 20 years after the murders.
Sergeant Tara Thomas, spokeswoman for the Vermont State Police, tells New Times that fingerprints of a "John Doe," who shot himself after running from cops in high-speed police chase in Yuma in 1997, match the prints of Michael Reapp, who they believe murdered his wife and 2-year-old daughter in 1978.
In 1978, Reapp reported to police that his 32-year-old wife, Grace, and 2-year-old daughter Gracie were missing.
Their bodies were never found.
Reapp, who lost his job as an air-traffic controller at the Burlington International Airport, moved to Florida in 1983 as police continued to look for his wife and daughter.
As the investigation continued, "due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding their disappearance," police determined they were murdered and that Reapp -- then in Florida -- was the primary suspect.
In 1996, police excavated the home in which Reapp was living in with his wife and daughter at the time of their disappearance. Their bodies weren't found during the excavation, but a newspaper reporter called Reapp in Florida to talk to him about it.
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This, according to police, was how Reapp learned that his former home was the target of an investigation, and according to a Web site created by Juliana Woodworth, Reapp's former sister-in-law, he left Florida four days after the reporter's contact "with a toothbrush and his cigarettes in his 1994 gray Isuzu pickup truck."
Reapp, police say, was never heard from again, but his fingerprints suggest he spent his last moments in Yuma -- stealing a car and shooting himself after a high-speed police chase.
Thomas says, although the "John Doe" didn't have identification, police believe he's Reapp, based on fingerprints and family members identifying him in autopsy photos.
The search for the bodies of Grace and Gracie, Thomas says, continues.